Friday, 13 June 2008

Eurovision - Day Three

Day three in Belgrade saw me at the arena for the First Semi Final where the 10 qualifiers from this round would go to the final on Saturday night. I was both nervous and excited as I really wanted my favourite from this Semi Final, Maria from Norway to qualify. The one country that I didn't want to qualify was Ireland as I would have been annoyed if it had taken the place of a more deserving song.

Despite the arena not being very full, the atmosphere was still amazing. Even though I had seen the dress rehearsals I was still excited to watch the performances and to see if the artists had raised their game. For me, the best performance of the night came from Maria who nailed it vocally. Rebeka from Slovenia seemed to give a better performance on the night compared to her rehearsals and Kalomira's vocals sounded stronger than they previously. Once the show was over I waited nervously for the results to be announced. The first country to be read out was Greece which got a very popular response in the arena. I was pleased that Kalomira had qualified but as each envelope was opened and Norway wasn't announced I began to worry. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Maria’s name to be announced and when it was (the last one) I gave a huge sigh of relief and cheered. I was pleased with the 10 qualifers and the only change I would have made would have been that Slovenia had qualified instead of Finland. I was so happy that Ireland didn’t qualify, as I think it would have been a bad day for Eurovision if it had gone to the final.

As I left the arena I was interviewed outside for television, where I was asked who I was supporting in the contest - I mentioned my favourites: Euroband for Iceland, Maria for Norway and Ani Lorak for Ukraine. With my work done at the arena, I headed to the press centre, where the conference became a bit of a farce as Dima Bilan went on a rant, calling everyone ‘beautiful’ and generally speaking madness. None of the press asked any worthy questions, apart from one directed at Shirusho about whether she thought that serious songs were more worthy for success at Eurovision. Her reply was that “all artists should be able to express themselves how they want, and if that is in a fun or serious way then that is fine.”

After the Press Conference , I caught a few moments with Paddy O’Connell, and asked him if he thought Terry Wogan would actually resign if the UK didn’t do well this year at Eurovision. Paddy said that he thought that Terry was serious, as Andy’s song was the song that he actually picked. As Maria left the press conference, I congratulated her and she screamed that she was so happy with the position she has drawn for performing in the final (25th!).

As I left, I saw Belgium’s Ishtar and consoled her on not qualifying, before heading to the official after-party. There, I stole a few moments with the presenter of last year’s contest, Yana, who said she didn’t think that this year’s presenters were very good, as they didn’t have any personality. Miaow!

Inside the party, I saw Laka’s sister, who I asked what other songs she liked from this years contest. “To be honest,” she replied. “I don’t like any other entries – except maybe France.”
Well, at least she was honest.

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